Monday, June 17, 2024

Gautami urges writers to explore roles that go beyond a woman’s age

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Actress Gautami Kapoor, who’s been one of the most loved actresses in the television industry, opens up about the number game playing an imperative role in placing her in the script.


Her hope is to play better parts this year. It is an odd visual to see a fifty-year-old Salman Khan romance a woman half his age on the big screen. Because in Bollywood, women’s age matters but not men’s, according to the actress!

As described by the perspective of our patriarchal roots, a woman’s career is scanned through the lens of a number. This number also plays an imperative role in placing her in the script, adaughter, sister, the leading lady, mother, or maybe a grandma, as soon as she reaches her 40s. But thankfully, with better scripts and some sense, actresses are rewriting the rules! As we sit down with actress Gautami Kapoor, who herself at 48 is on the lookout for interesting scripts, and fresh parts, she shares her love for the leading ladies who are paving the way for many others today.

She says, “No, I don’t think much is changing. But actors like Neena Gupta, Shefali Shah, and even Raveena Tandon are really changing the game for us. And I really hope that this works in my favour. And because they are doing phenomenal work, I hope that better things are written for me too. I really look up to them. And the industry looks beyond just them and realises we are all there. And I hope that we can break the monotony that has been written for us.”

In her hope for the future of Bollywood and every woman who has crossed her 30s and is praying not to be boxed in the category of a granny onscreen, Kapoor dearly hopes to break the stereotypes! She further adds, “That’s my aim this year. My kids have grown up, and I want to work and invest my time well.”

As we speak about the changing dynamics of Bollywood, Kapoor also reflects on the changes and challenges she sees in the business. Having spent close to two decades in the industry, Kapoor sheds light on the present-day drill of being an actor: “The challenges for an actor back in the day and the challenges for an actor now are pretty much the same.

The only thing that has changed now is that a lot of people are now getting into the habit of acting effortlessly. So, the competition is much stiffer. Like, for the same role 20 years ago, they wouldn’t need two or three people. Now there are a thousand people. Plus with a boom in social media and all these portals, it’s becoming increasingly easy to get into the field.”

She further bursts the bubble of misconceptions that the world holds about this business of glitz and glamour, and says, “People have this misconception that acting is a very easy and glamorised job, which it is, but it is a lot of hard work. So, a lot of people think it’s an easy way to make money. So, there are a lot more people wanting to explore this field. In those terms, the competition is very recent. So actors aren’t really complacent today.”

Speaking about the idea of being easily replaceable as an actor, Gautami also explains how the competition makes every actor carve out their unique presence. She also says that actors don’t say that they are indispensable because they are not. She adds, “You see in a lot of shows and on a lot of OTT platforms that you read about actors leading shows, and you feel, Oh, the show is not going to run without them.

But the show goes on, and sometimes it becomes even more successful. All of these things are very different now than they were 20 years ago. 20 years ago, producers came back saying, “Please don’t leave, please come back.” All that has changed drastically, which is good in a way, because it doesn’t let the actors become lax because the competition is so much tougher. You are always on your toes and you always want to have your aim. So, if you want to be in the top ten, then you clearly have to be all that. You can’t afford to be relaxed in any way, whether it’s your looks, your physique, your skills, or everything. You really have to be up there all the time.”

Much like fashion trends, the dynamics of Bollywood’s business change every Friday. With newer faces being launched on both the big and small screens, the cycle of evolution is faster than ever. With respect to age, as a part of the spectrum, competition for women in a certain age bracket makes it harder to explore. Some often settle for the usual roles in the name of work. Gautami further puts her perspective on Bollywood as it stands today, and mentions, “I think it’s still evolving. Especially in my bracket, like 40 and up, there’s not much written for us. There’s a cliche: the same people want to see you in the same outfits, or people always imagine you doing the same thing. It is very difficult for actors like me to break that mould. Nobody wants to strive for anything different. Everything is very conservative.”

She confesses to being tired of receiving the same roles again, and again. She hopes to break free from the mould, of the stereotype that has surrounded her. She adds, “But at least here, people are not willing to take that risk, and they are lax. So, I think we still haven’t found that for my age bracket. Though it is changing, not as much. And actors my age, all of us, are overworked because everyone wants to work today and no one wants to sit at home. Today’s generation is very different, everybody’s working, and everybody’s doing something for themselves. So, we all want to work.”

And as many actors have pointed out in recent years, the script is the new protagonist of every film. With this, she says she wants writers to explore interesting roles that go beyond a woman’s age. She adds, “I hope people consciously make an effort to incorporate us in a story in a good way, not just stand by or offer support.” I get called saying, “Hero ki maa ka role hai.” I just switched off right there, and I don’t mean it in a derivative way. But it’s just that I am like, come on, I want to do something, I want to act, I want to work. Write something for me.”

This truly is what many women from her generation are waiting for. That one opportunity, that one spotlight, that mic, to tell a new tale, with them in the centre stage!

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